Faced with a school board that decided against giving all students in Hillsborough County, Florida holidays for Yom Kippur, Good Friday or Eid ul-Fitr, Ahmed Bedier, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, unsurprisingly concluded that this was of course “just an excuse to hide bias against the Muslims.” (This is from “Schools Scrap Religious Holidays,” from Tampa Bay Online, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
It did not occur to him that Catholicism and Judaism, as well as Islam, are minority religions in America, but that in keeping with our American principles of government by the majority with respect for the rights of the minority, students have been excused from school without penalty for religious holidays — a policy that will continue.
School Board Attorney Tom Gonzalez explained:
“A school board cannot recognize a religious holiday for the sole purpose of recognizing a religious holiday,” Gonzalez said at a meeting packed with dozens of members of the Muslim community, some pleading to have no school on holidays for all religions. So many people celebrate Christmas that businesses can’t operate on that day, Gonzalez said. If large numbers of students and teachers are absent on other religious holidays, the district may opt to again make those days off, he said.
That is in fact the case in some Michigan and New Jersey school districts where Eid is already a school holiday. School holidays do not imply government sanction, just recognition of the wishes of significant numbers of the population. Of course, it is hard not to notice that the C-word is not used in the calendar:
Winter holidays– Dec. 18-Jan. 1
The “spring holiday,” meanwhile, is nowhere near Easter. It’s contemptible that they cannot call it a “Christmas holiday” and that they can’t have an “Easter holiday,” since the majority of their students celebrate those days. But the confusion the ACLU has sown about the establishment clause predates pressure from CAIR about Eid.
Where Muslims are in significant numbers, there is no problem with schools putting an Eid holiday on their calendar. Muslim students in Hillsborough County can already take a day off from school for Eid without penalty. That that is not enough for Bedier indicates that he does not understand the parameters of American pluralism. And that the school board responded by banning all religious holidays is an unwarranted dhimmi overreaction.